Leading & Following

What Does it Mean to Lead or Follow in West Coast Swing?

Leading and following in West Coast Swing are the “roles” in which two dancers take on when they partner up for a dance. Traditionally, the man “leads” and the woman “follows” in a dance. Leading and Following are common terms in all types of partner dancing, where one person dictates an intended pattern and the followers chooses to “follow” through once the signal is given.

While leading and following are traditionally “locked” to one gender or the other, these roles are not strict in what gender leads or follows. In our world today it’s not very common for men to follow or women to lead, but it has been gaining in commonality as time progresses¬†on. It’s especially more common in West Coast Swing for the roles not to be taken literally from a gender point of view than other partner dances.

Leading in West Coast Swing

The role of a Leader in West Coast Swing is to provide direction and intention of the dance for the Follower to … follow through on. As a Leader, you always want to think about making your Follower look good to your audience (even if there’s nobody watching) and feel comfortable while dancing with you.

Generally, a Leader can give an intended direction in which to send the Follower, but it’s always up to the Follower to choose whether or not she wants to complete the pattern or not.

Following in West Coast Swing

The role of a Follower in West Coast Swing is to interpret what the Leader is trying to direct in the dance. With strong, clear leads from a Leader, it should not be too difficult to know where the Leader wants you to go or how he wants you to rotate. As a Follower, you always have the choice to either “agree” to the pattern or not, based on the movements you make.

Generally, a Follower completes the “sentence” started by the Leader, but as a Follower you always have the choice on whether not you want to complete it or interpret differently (perhaps because of musical hits).